Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp appeared in a London court Tuesday to stand trial in a case accusing him of concealing a foreign bank account from British tax authorities while manager of Portsmouth. According to prosecutor John Black, Redknapp claimed not to know how $295,000 made in two payments from Portsmouth arrived in his Monaco bank account, despite him flying to the principality in 2002 to open the account. Black contends each payment was an “off-record bonus” or “bung,” a British term used to mean a bribe. Former Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric is accused of making the payments during the first of Redknapp's two stints with the club (2002-04 and 2005-08).
Redknapp denied taking a “bung” in a Feb. 2009 conversation with a journalist, according to a transcript read to London’s Southwark Crown Court on the second day of the trial. “It’s nothing to do with a bung -- it’s paid by the chairman,” Redknapp told a reporter with the now-defunct News of the World. "If it was something dodgy I would have gone over there and brought it back in a brief case."
The court heard Monday that Redknapp did not mention the account’s existence during an investigation by Britain’s tax authority over his transfer dealings at West Ham, which he managed between 1994 and 2001. A 300,000-pound bonus Redknapp received from the sale of now-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand to Leeds from West Ham prompted that investigation. In November of 2007, while manager of Portsmouth, Redknapp was arrested, and existence of the account in Monaco came to light the following year.
Charges in the current case are that Mandaric paid $145,000 into Redknapp’s Monaco bank account in May 2002, prompted by Peter Crouch’s sale from Portsmouth to Aston Villa, and another $150,000 two years later to avoid paying income tax and national insurance. Mandaric is currently chairman of Division One (third division) club Sheffield Wednesday. Both men have denied the charges.